Michigan Nut Photography | Exploring Michigan's Waterfalls

Exploring Michigan's Waterfalls

June 24, 2014  •  Leave a Comment


Michigan-based photographer John McCormick shares some tips for exploring a few of the states many waterfalls.


If you’re looking for things to do in Michigan this summer, try exploring some beautiful waterfalls. This will be a great year for it! The heavy snow and below average temperatures this past winter have resulted in fast flowing rivers and raging waterfalls all across Upper Michigan this spring. My wife and I and our three boys have been exploring and photographing these gems for over 30 years and the ones mentioned here are a few of our favorites.

Some of the waterfalls are easy to find and easy to access, while others require a little more effort.  The most popular waterfall to see is Tahquamenon, and it is also one of the easiest to access. There are two drops – the upper and lower. The upper falls are more than 200 feet across and plunge approximately 48 feet. Both of these waterfalls are within the Tahquamenon Falls State Park, and this area has some of the best camping in Michigan.

Tahquamenon Falls One of the more remote waterfalls to see is Spray Falls in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This one is about a three mile round trip hike, starting from the trail-head at Little Beaver Lake campground. It is rated a moderate hike. Spray Falls plunges 70ft over the Pictured Rocks cliff edge directly into Lake Superior. This stretch of hiking trail is one of the most spectacular hikes in Michigan. See our Pictured Rocks gallery.

Spray Falls , Pictured Rocks National LakeshoreSpray Falls , Pictured Rocks National LakeshoreSpray Falls is the remotest, and perhaps the most impressive of the several waterfalls in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The 70' waterfall plunges over the cliffs at Pictured Rocks and lands directly in Lake Superior

Another easy to access waterfall ‘and fun to photograph’, is Wagner Falls, just South of Munising, Michigan. It’s a beautiful scenic spot, and just a short walk through the woods. If you visit this one in the springtime, you will see Marsh Marigolds blooming along the edges of the creek just below the falls. It makes for a pretty picture! As a side trip while in the area, head over to Miners Beach just West of Munising and see the little but very picturesque, Elliot Falls, aka Miners Beach Falls.

Wagner FallsWagner FallsShop High Quality Fine Art Prints, Canvas...Spring time at Wagner Falls near

Munising Michigan
Miners Beach Falls , Pictured Rocks National LakeshoreMiners Beach Falls , Pictured Rocks National LakeshoreThis little waterfall is hidden on the far East end of Lake Superior's Miners Beach. Moving on from Wagner falls on M94 heading South and West you will find the little town of Chatham, MI,  which is about 25 miles from Munising. Near Chatham, is Rock River Falls. This waterfall is hidden in the Rock River Wilderness Area. Getting to it involves driving on some old logging roads and then hiking a mile or so through the forest on some ‘not so well marked’ trails, but if you are looking for a back-country waterfall adventure, this one is for you. Also, Just a few miles West of Chatham, is Laughing Whitefish Falls. It’s another easily accessible waterfall and a beautiful area of the Rock River Wilderness.

Rock River FallsRock River Fallsit's quite an adventure getting to this remote waterfall located in the rock river wilderness, Hiawatha National Forest. We drove five miles in on an old two track , parked and walked additional 1.5 miles or so on an unmarked trail. I have been to dozens of waterfalls in Michigan, but this was our first time to this particular falls . This falls is not huge but is now on my top five favorite Michigan waterfall list. After I photographed the falls I climbed up in them and enjoyed a refreshing shower. It didn't look like anyone had been there in awhile. Laughing Whitefish FallsLaughing Whitefish FallsBeautiful Autumn colors at Laughing Whitefish Falls.

Farther West in Upper Michigan near Paulding, Michigan, is Bond Falls. This one has it all. Easy to access, wheelchair accessible, and one of the most spectacular to see. Don’t forget to get some ice cream at the Paulding General Store, or maybe look for the “Paulding Lights”. People have reported seeing these mysterious lights for 40 years.

Bond Falls Paulding MichiganBond Falls Paulding MichiganOne of the best waterfalls in the State of Michigan. Middle branch of the Ontonagan river, near Paulding.
High quality fine art prints
One more waterfall I will mention, that gets little attention, is Ocqueoc Falls near Onaway, Michigan. This is the only recognized waterfall in Michigan’s lower peninsula. You can hike the Ocqueoc Falls Pathway that starts here and runs along the river. Also at the falls area there is a picnic area with tables and grills. This area is also wheelchair accessible.

Ocqueoc FallsOcqueoc FallsMarsh Marigolds blooming along the banks of the Ocqueoc River. Ocqueoc Falls is the only recognized waterfall in Michigan's lower peninsula. I could go on and list many, many more waterfalls to see. I do highly recommend visiting my Michigan waterfalls gallery to see over a hundred photos my favorite shots taken over many years of travels. Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions about Michigan's waterfalls, or would like to leave a comment, please do that below. You can select public, or private. If you have a moment, please feel free to share this post via the social media share buttons provided. 

Thank you very much!



John McCormick is a lifelong Michigan resident and has been interested in Michigan Nature Photography for over 30 years. Michigan is a beautiful place to live and photographing that beauty is his absolute passion. To follow his recent work be sure to "like" his facebook page. To see all of his Michigan photo galleries, purchase prints, or to license an image, use the links at the top of this page.


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